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Hey, so it turns out that fall is a big deal around here.

Also, purple potatoes are a thing. 

Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you what my previous falls were like: non-stop school work and seasonal depression. I could never see the coming of fall as an occasion to be celebrated while there was less and less sunlight every day and more and more work. Though academics at Dartmouth are no less rigorous and the weather is getting cold, this fall feels new, exciting, and celebratory. Yes, the changing colors of the trees are gorgeous as the last streaks of fall sunlight flicker on their leaves and [insert further poetic descriptions here]. But that is not the whole story. This fall feels celebratory because I have had many opportunities to try new experiences during which I could form unique connections and strengthen the relationships I have. Let me tell you about a few of them!

Riverview Farm
The view from the exit of the corn maze on Riverview Farm.

Last weekend, I went on an apple-picking trip to Riverview Farm with Great Issues Scholars, which is a year-long program for first-year students that involves discussions and interactive events organized around international issues such as global health, security, and climate change. What I like about the program is that its focus is not only on engaging with global issues but also on building a community of scholars who are passionate about international problems. The apple-picking trip was the perfect opportunity to meet new people while exploring the Riverview Farm,  which is known for its wide variety of apple trees, blueberries, fall raspberries, pumpkins, and a "legendary" corn maze. If you are asking yourself how can a corn maze be legendary, I've been there. But trust me: it does feel legendary when you are sort of lost in it with amazing people from all over the world. I also never would have believed that apple-picking would be this fun and fascinating until I have found myself exploring different varieties of apples while talking about agriculture, linguistic similarities between Mongolian and Turkish, and mental health in different countries with my friends from Canada, Mongolia, and California. 

Speaking of different backgrounds and unusual experiences, I have never been more perplexed by a vegetable and people´s reactions to it before having a Harvest Dinner at FoCo, our dining hall. This year´s dinner included a wide selection of different pies, cheese, apples, and more, but among all of the great food I have consumed, none has intrigued me more than the purple potatoes. While I and my floormate from Beijing were looking at our purple potatoes and wondering why they looked like they escaped from a fantasy book, our American friends were equally bewildered by our reaction to such a common crop. I never thought that my first culture shock would involve potatoes, but hey, Dartmouth is full of pleasant surprises.

Harvest dinenr
Me and Jamie, my floormate / honorary roommate, with our pumpkin baby at the Harvest Dinner.

Fall term is only halfway over, which means there will be new experiences worth writing about. I am looking forward to my first Halloween and pumpkin carving. Stay tuned!

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